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So really, truly, do you tell someone if they smell?

(134 Posts)
awkwardsis Fri 05-Apr-13 20:35:01

Am faced with a dilemma. I have a sister 10 years younger than me. She started university in September, wanted to come home pretty much straight away as she was struggling being away from home. She is a very very young 19. My parents live rurally, she has been very isolated and is very unwordly. I had her to stay with me a few days this week. When she arrived she smelled badly of BO. It lasted the 2 days she was here, and I've had to wash all of the covers on my sofa now she's gone as the smell just clung to it sad She's having difficulty making friends which tbh I had put down to her being very unlike the ones she's sharing a flat with. The pictures I've seen on her facebook show them as the 19 year olds I remember from my first year at uni, very into their clothes and make up. But now I'm wondering if there's more to it and they're actually picking on her and making her unhappy? She's about to go on placement as her degree is in teaching and I'm agonising over wether I ought to have a word with her about looking after herself a bit better? She's gone on and on about making a good impression at these schools but tbh I am worried that it won't go unnoticed. I adore my sister and feel an absolute bitch for even having an opinion about how she presents herself. I can't comment on her clothes and lack of make up as I know that's her choice, and yes I know we shouldn't feel we have to wear make up etc. But the smell? Would you want to be told? And how to I phrase it so I don't massively hurt her feelings or make her feel bad about herself?

MarianaTrench Thu 11-Apr-13 16:38:37

What a brilliant outcome, you are a lovely sister to have.

I had a similar problem being the oldest of four girls with a mother who disapproved of shaving, make up, Tampax, just about everything really. I was quite defiant though and just went ahead and shaved my armpits, bought deoderant etc. and used make up. Our mother never discussed any of this stuff with us except to disapprove of it, so I also took it upon myself to educate the others and make sure they didn't suffer unecessarily. One had appalling acne that my mother refused to see as something a GP could treat so I took her myself. As parents ourselves now we are always discussing how strange this part of our upbringing was and we all try to be very open and supportive with our daughters as a result.

Levantine Thu 11-Apr-13 15:28:24

Well done, this made me feel a bit teary! Your sister is very lucky, it is obvious how much you love each other.

Echocave Thu 11-Apr-13 13:45:04

OP. well done, you've done a brilliant thing there. I want to give your sister a big hug.
If you are in contact regularly, I'd just keep reinforcing the nice stuff you've done and said. Once she becomes more confident away from home, she may find it easier not to be so swayed by your Mum's disapproval. I really wish you both the best [tries not to sob in OTT fashion].

glossyflower Thu 11-Apr-13 08:59:43

... Sorry I didn't realise there are 6 pages of posts!

Your sister is very lucky to have you smile


glossyflower Thu 11-Apr-13 08:55:27

As her sister you owe it to her to tell her and support her, which I'm sure you would do anyway.
Also maybe book a spa day with her spend some quality time pampering yourselves, it might open her eyes to see how much better she'd feel for looking after herself a bit better?
Let us know how you get on. Xxx

RaspberryRuffle Thu 11-Apr-13 00:44:29

OP, it sounds like you have done a great job in boosting your sister's confidence. I just wanted to say about her future skincare and haircare, I saw plenty of more 'budget' skincare brands on offer today in Boots (Garnier, L'Oreal etc). As your sister hasn't really been using anything why not start out with something like this as anything should be an improvement on her current situation of using nothing, and it means it will be something she can continue to afford for herself as part of her routine IYSWIM, instead of you treating her to something like Clinique that she won't really be able to afford and may give up on. Also then if it doesn't suit her she can try a different brand and it won't be such a waste of money.
Same with her hair, Superdrug, Boots and supermarkets have nice own brands that smell lovely, or 2 for 1 offers, she could pick these up and they are affordable for her, if her hair is so dry you can buy a hair mask very cheaply, you could even both do this next time she's round at your house as part of her continued appearance 'lessons'.
Well done for helping her out!

mrsibley Wed 10-Apr-13 23:00:36

Just read what you did and just had to say I wish every awkward teenage girl had a big sister like you. Fabulous.

awkwardsis Wed 10-Apr-13 10:06:42

I don't think she'd join the gym but I am going to ask her to try and widen her circle a bit, she sounds so very isolated. A haircut is a good idea, she has the most lovely thick long blonde hair and I styled it quickly with my straighteners to give a bit of a wave to it, and gave her a bit if a side fringe which I said she should consider getting cut in. Her hair is very dry too so I think I'd like to buy her some decent tuff for that, and make sure she has enough flannels, just basic things I'd not even considered she might not have. She's not the youngest as she's older than our little brother by just a year, but our mum is the same with all us siblings. Just disinterested and vaguely disapproving sad I really hope mum doesn't say anything negative when she gets home tomorrow, or that she feels the need to hide the clothes. I need t make sure she's confide t to do the makeup on her own, check she can do her hair and then she'll be good to go.

LeoandBoosmum Wed 10-Apr-13 02:41:05

Oh...lost my last message!
If your sister's skin is very dry she could try Jurlique Moisture Replenishing Cream (fairly strong but beautiful smell from essential oils in it...thought I'd point that out in case of allergies!) I have used it for a long time. They are pretty accommodating with samples ime (they do great cleansers too...there is also a Moisture Replenishing Foaming wash for dry skin) so you could give them a call on 020 3205 3845 and see if they'll give some samples for your sister to try.
Kiehl's are usually also good with samples if you have a store or counter near to you.
Re the dry skin, aside from drinking more water she could also try treating it from the inside out by eating more fruit and veg, oily fish (or taking capsules), eating avocado and nuts like walnuts and brazils, and maybe taking flaxseed oil capsules (with regard to the fish oils caps or flaxseed caps, they can cause some skins to break out so tread carefully)..
If the girls at uni are snooty and still avoid your sister then maybe she should join a gym or some other uni groups to increase her confidence further. Anyhow, good on you, Awkwardsis!

MsBella Wed 10-Apr-13 02:26:29

Oh just read the update, well done! As a big sister these things need to be done sometimes and I'm sure she appreciates it

MsBella Wed 10-Apr-13 02:24:05

Try and make friends with her, id personally tell her I had the same problem even if its not true, it'll help her not be embarressed

CalamityJ Wed 10-Apr-13 02:22:54

Thanks for the update. I'm so pleased it went so well. You obviously have a great relationship and handled it sensitively. Hopefully you can update us once she's back at uni and tell us if she's making more friends, seems happier, is more confident etc?

LeoandBoosmum Wed 10-Apr-13 02:22:10

Awkwardsis...I just saw your update (why do I always read the thread after I've posted confused)
I just wanted to say what a lovely sister you are! You have made a huge boost to your sister's confidence and I expect she'll go into her placement feeling much more optimistic about making that good impression!!
It sounds like you handled the situation perfectly! Every cloud has a silver lining: the issue provided you with a lovely opportunity for a bit of sisterly bonding smile
If she can afford it or you can afford to treat her then it might be nice to take your sister to get a nice hair cut (from what you've said, I'm guessing she's probably not been to a nice salon for a professional cut before) or a nice bottle of perfume to add that finishing touch.
I'm so happy it worked out so well... You absolutely did the right thing!
Just one thing: it does sound like your mum is a little overbearing. She must understand that your sister is trying to become independent and carve a life out for herself. Maybe you should have a word with her and tell her it's hard enough at nineteen to leave home and embark on a teaching course without extra pressure. Is your sister the youngest? Sounds like your mum is having a hard time letting her go and grow up.
Anyway, ten out of ten for sisterly awesomeness! wink

LeoandBoosmum Wed 10-Apr-13 02:08:12

Honestly? I think you have to. If you, her loving sister with her best interests at heart, don't then someone else probably will! Either that or she'll be avoided...
I would be totally straight with her:
(Name), I'm telling you this because you're my sister and care for you. You are probably completely unaware of it but...there is no nice way of saying this: you have very bad BO. I am telling you because I don't want somebody to point it out to you in an unkind way, and I don't want people to avoid you because of it (point out that as she's going into teaching, it is likely that staff will avoid her and some children will latch on to anything they can to make a teacher's life miserable, especially older kids!)
It is better that you tell her in a kind and loving way than the likely alternative. As her older sister, you can point out that hygiene is crucial but makeup/ fashion/ styling is not... However, you are willing to help her out on that front if she wants you to (you could offer to go to a makeup counter with her where they'll usually do a free makeover - even subtle - in the hopes you will buy a product or two. Or offer to go the salon with her... If you get a makeover and haircut too then it'd be a nice bonding thing! smile
I'd also kindly point out the importance of washing clothes regularly with detergent.
I think you are a nice sister to do this. It's not easy but she will go through life with people giving her a wide berth or ridiculing her to her face or behind her back if keep schtum!

Alanna1 Wed 10-Apr-13 00:45:37

A friend had to deal with a bad BO situation in a line management capacity. She dealt with it by sending the team on a self presentation skills course which included 1:1 feedback from the course organisers. They dealt with it. Other sessions on how to dress / meeting client expectations etc. Worked brilliantly. It's not uncommon for young male employees to need some guidqnce apparently. Could you adapt the idea for your sister? My husband and other friends have used professional interview and image training consultants for coaching before major interviees. Quite a few firms practice in the area.

sjupes Wed 10-Apr-13 00:14:11

Aw i'm so glad it went well - my older sister 'moulded' me from an unkempt stinky mess to a not too bad looking young person when i was 16 - i appreciate it to this day almost ten years later!

HavingALittleFaithBaby Tue 09-Apr-13 22:53:34

What a lovely sister you are thanks. Well done for having the courage to deal with it so tactfully smile

thermalsinapril Tue 09-Apr-13 22:42:30

Wonderful to read your updates smile So glad it all went well, and so pleased that your sister has you caring about her.

BornInACrossFireHurricane Tue 09-Apr-13 22:03:55

Brilliant update!!

Hope everything goes well for your sister

thezebrawearspurple Tue 09-Apr-13 22:00:36

You're an amazing sister, she's so lucky to have yousmile

WipsGlitter Tue 09-Apr-13 21:58:52

You are an amazing sister. x

awkwardsis Tue 09-Apr-13 21:52:45

I just wish they could all have stayed tonight but they had to get back as she has some kind of test on Friday and my brother starts back at school on Monday and has exams. I'm deasperately sad that her confidence is so low. I've told her that any negative comments she gets about her new clothes or appearance are jealousy pure and simple. Her skin is a real mess, so so dry and looks as old as mine even though she's 10 years younger so I've sent her away with a bottle of cleanser tha's far soo harsh really, and a big tube of moisturiser and told her to just drink lots of water to get it up to scratch before we go shopping again. But I'd like to buy her some really nice stuff so perhaps I'll look into some things that might work on her skin and treat her that way. Even just the tinted moisturiser covered up the blemishes and made a difference. The positive comments from my brother helped too, he was literally speechless when he saw her. I'm hoping he'll back her up if mum decides to stick the knife in.

AnyoneforTurps Tue 09-Apr-13 21:51:07

Well done - she will remember this with gratitude for the rest of her life!

Grockle Tue 09-Apr-13 21:50:13

Well done! Thank you so much for updating. You sound like a wonderful sister & she sounds lovely too. What a fabulous thread.

Uppatreecuppatea Tue 09-Apr-13 21:49:35

You are a wonderful SIS! I think you're wonderful and what you did is just terrific.

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